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EDITORIAL M&S, Screwfix, Top Shop and Budgens – the retailers who get mobile?

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It isn’t often you get to lump Budgens in with the likes of M&S and Screwfix, but as the retail paradigm rapidly shifts, maybe we should expect the unexpected?

This week, Budgens has taken a lead over most other supermarket chains with a shopping app that does all the things that my other half nags me about shopping apps not doing: it will take your shopping list and create the most efficient way to work through the store to get the things you want. Then you scan and pay.

This is, in my book, possibly even better than Amazon Go. There you still have to find what you are looking for with your peepers.

The move by Budgens also showcases how the new world order of retail is shaping up. The small supermarket chain clearly had to play catch up to the big boys, but seems to have taken a radical approach to creating its app: listening to what people want. Many other retailers would be wise to do the same.

The likes of M&S, Screwfix, Top Shop, Miss Selfridge and New Look have all also done this: they have seen how many of their customers – especially at the younger end of the market – use Instagram and have embraced the new Shop Now buttons instigated by the social media site to make post shoppable.

Of course, there are the naysayers who seem to think that this is just the latest in a long line of hype-driven “quick, we have to do…” knee-jerks, but it isn’t. This is the retail reality: shoppers are doing things differently.

This, of course, doesn’t mean that shoppable Instagram feeds isn’t the product of hyperbole, but even if it is it is still a reality: this is where shoppers are. It is the same argument for retailers and brands embracing marketplaces: it is where the shoppers are, so you kind of have to – or not, if you want to try something new.

The reality, however, is that retail is changing hugely. All retailers are competing like never before for the sale. The move by Budgens only exemplifies this even more clearly – you are now even competing against the smaller, local and regional chains for custom, and many of these guys may have the agility and technical edge to best you big players.

Instagram as a shopping platform may be just today’s big thing, but it is a thing nonetheless. And it is a thing that is going to have to be one (of many) of the parts of your omni-channel strategy.

While most retailers are wrestling with how to service online, mobile and in-store, most forget that they are also going to have to service social media sites, marketplaces and even media companies all of which will soon act as places for consumers to buy things – and in the process creating a host of challenges for retailers and brands.

IMAGE Stavros1 at Wikipedia

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